Jaunsar tribal area in Uttarakhand comprising of blocks Kalsi and Chakrata in Dehradun district is traditionally a maize growing area. Of the total 27,895 thousand hectare area under maize cultivation in Uttarakhand, the Dehradun district with a total area of 9,115 thousand hectare accounts for about 33 per cent of the total maize area in the state. Of this, about 45 per cent is located in the hill region of the district represented mainly by the tribal blocks of Kalsi and Chakrata. The contribution to maize production from the hill region, however, is only 30 per cent due to lower productivity (976 kg/ ha) compared to the plains of the district (1,879 kg/ ha). This productivity level is even below the average for the entire hill region of the State (1,187 kg/ ha).
As an effort to increase the overall productivity of maize in hill region, ICAR-Vivekananda Parvatiya Krishi Anusandhan Sansthan, Almora has developed several maize hybrids along with their package of practices. Among these, Vivek Maize Hybrid 45 is an early maturing (85-90 days) and high yielding (50-55 q per hectare) variety tolerant to Turcicum and Maydis Leaf Blight. It was released by Central Variety Release Committee in the year 2013 for cultivation in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The plant height is 200-205 cm and it bears long cylindrical cobs with good husk cover. The grains of this variety are bold (average 1000-grain weight is 335 g), yellow in colour and semi-flint in texture. It has the ‘stay-green trait’ which makes the plant suitable for use as green fodder after harvesting of the mature cobs.
Vivek Maize Hybrid 45 was recommended for cultivation in the said blocks to raise the productivity. Front Line Demonstrations were organized in this area during Kharif 2015 with the aim of enhancing the production and productivity of maize. As a precursor to organizing the FLDs, a training programmes entitled ‘Parvatiya Fasalon ki Unnet Utpadan Taknikein’ with major focus on maize crop was organized for the farmers of village Dhanpau, Sawda and Lakhwad of Kalsi block in the month of May, 2015 under Tribal Sub Plan component of ICAR-VPKAS, Almora. This was followed up by a hands-on training on maize hybrid seed production to ten farmers from these villages in the month of June, 2015 and laying out of demonstrations of Vivek Maize Hybrid 45 in 10 ha area in the village cluster.
According to the farmers, the yield of Vivek Maize Hybrid 45 in Kalsi and Chakrata was about double that of their local cultivar (this is corroborated by the preliminary assessment of the scientists as well) despite less than normal rainfall during the crop season. They also reported that damage due to high speed winds was also less in the hybrid variety. The ‘stay-green’ trait of the hybrid was particularly appreciated by the farmers. Enthused by the performance of Vivek Maize Hybrid 45, the farmers expressed keenness to grow the variety during nextcrop season as well and are looking forward to receiving adequate quantity of seed of the variety from the institute. In order to ensure sustained supply of required quantity of seed of the hybrid variety over a longer term, the institute has initiated steps towards establishing a maize hybrid seed production system at the village cluster level, thereby promoting local entrepreneurship as well in the process.
The institute is set to carry on this initiative further through downstream interventions such as drudgery reduction by replacement of manual shelling with maize sheller; soil health card, ensuring fair price for the produce by establishing linkage with poultry, food and other industries in the State; developing the adjoining plains as a maize hybrid seed production hub, besides others.